The demons of Delhi

Published: July 30, 2016
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‘Shahjahanabad’, the most vibrant market of Chandni Chowk, Delhi PHOTO: REUTERS

The more things change, the more they remain the same. It was 2012 and Delhi was in the midst of a round of massive protests. The gang rape of the young woman Nirbhaya, who came to be remembered as the fearless one, in a moving bus, finally got the jaded citizens of the city on to the streets, as women demanded their basic right, safety.

Soon after, legislations were amended, new laws were brought in, and politicians finally seemed to have heard the pulse of a frustrated nation. Yet in the last one week alone, a tourist was gang raped as well as a 14-year-old girl; she was reportedly raped by the same man twice in a span of six months, and then passed away. The alleged rapist forced his victim to drink a corrosive substance that completely destroyed her internal organs.

Delhi has been ground zero for such violence against women; several tourists spots scattered across the country have had their own story of shame. A few days ago, a woman from Israel made the mistake of taking a ride from some unknown men in a car, she too, was gang raped.

But this is not the first of such incidents in the scenic hill town of Manali, which is known for tourists who come to visit and end up setting their roots here. At least two other women have been sexually assaulted here in the last three years. Such is the onslaught of violence against women in the country, where kids as young as three to four-years-old, who should only be scared of dragons and ghosts, are instead dealing with physical brutality.

It is now widely believed that rape is one of the most rampant crimes against women in India. Yet barring very few cases that are fast tracked after being highlighted by the media, justice is abysmally slow. Punishing a rapist ten years after he committed the crime loses the impact and intensity of the offence. The teenager who died a few days ago was sexually assaulted in December, yet our system allowed the same man to allegedly rape her again in May.

Earlier this year, a national daily reported that six acts of rape occur daily in Delhi alone, yet this is only from the data that is available. Countless or rather the majority of cases in rural India go unreported, as families would rather live with the pain than make what they think shameful, public. The absence of support systems and a local police force, which is known to deride and embarrass victims, only helps alienate them further. It is extremely rare for a poor and illiterate woman to speak out.

Those who want to defend the system will claim that every big city in the world has its own share of crime and they are right. Developed countries like France, England and the US are amongst the biggest offenders and in fact, per capita rape in India is far lesser than in any of these countries but two wrongs never did make a right or hide the grave reality. There is a reason why Delhi is now called the rape capital.

The psyche of every country is always different. In India, illiteracy, poverty, and unemployment are all contributing factors in creating a specific mind-set. Perhaps the finger will first point to the lack of emancipation of women for generations, which is now changing and leading to different conflicts. But when a man gets to eat while his sister starves in front of him for years, that sense of entitlement can breed monsters. And it has.

When it comes to women’s safety, there is no sense of normalcy in the country. It is not normal to walk in the park after dark and it is certainly not normal to hitch a ride from strangers. It was not meant to be like this, but unfortunately, this is what we teach the girls in our country today. Sadly, the onus is on them for their own safety.

The independent feminists will argue about giving in. Call it the temerity of youth, I have been there, done that. Driving from work alone after finishing a shift in the middle of the night or going to that party that didn’t end at a respectable time. In hindsight, I was nothing but foolish, I was tempting fate. When everything else fails, candle light can only take you that far.

My last two years have been spent in Abu Dhabi and it was a refreshing and fearless change. I did things I had long given up on, walks after sunset, taxi rides home alone after a dinner. But reality never gives an inch and good times are never endless. I am now back in Delhi, where the looming shadows are long and sinister.

Jyotsna Mohan

Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava

The author has worked with New Delhi Television (NDTV) for more than a decade and now writes for several news organisations on a variety of topics. She tweets as @jyotsnamohan (twitter.com/jyotsnamohan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • hp kumar

    You write for NDTV???Recommend

  • hp kumar

    One muslim guy has come back from abu dhabi just like you.He worked there for 3yrs in IT sector and is in india now coz of recession.He is jobless and to my surprise his experience doesnot count.He is ready to work even for free.So here is my two cents to burst your bubble.Recommend

  • Zoha

    I wonder where are anti-Muslim activists to splash the cause of this issue on Muslims as well. There is not a single Muslim country in the list of top raping countries.Recommend

  • Zoha

    For the sake of your own betterment, do admit the ground realities and don’t fabricate this issue as well against the Muslims. Come out of the typical anti-Muslim mindset.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Do i need to prove anything to you pakistani where free movement of women is virtually zero,and most of you r left dumb coz of your men folks?Recommend

  • zoro

    Yes no stories … because they dont come out in open …
    Do your research … move with local people you will know what goes on behind the curtains …Recommend

  • Zoha

    Its better not to comment when someone has loopholes within their own system. And for your information, women in Pakistan are more at ease when it comes to security and self-respect, even better than any advanced country in Europe or America. How you people are treating is completely lucid as stated in this very article and needs no further discussion.Recommend

  • Chitralwala

    This vicious comment forwarded to ISPR, JI, PML-N
    ANP, Sindh Secretariat, PM secretariat, Interior Ministry,
    PEMRA, ASWJ. PTI. PML-Q
    This is a Pro India newspaper.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    You dont need to Inform me.I m not new visitor here OK.The World is much bigger than your imagination.pl try to move out of country and then feel the difference.Here women works even in night shift.There is not gender segregation in colleges and institution that you seem to believe is a norm in outside world like your islamic country.There is a reason world designates you a failed nation.Recommend

  • Zoha

    Considering others inferior won’t lead you anywhere. Argue logically rather than being grandiloquent.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Citizen of a failed state..Agree or Disagree?Recommend

  • Zoha

    If giving respect to women and providing them their true identity is failing as a nation then yes we are a “failed nation”.
    If constructing a system which eliminates rape, sexual abuse, harassment and incest while giving equal rights to women in all aspects of life is failing as a nation then yes we do deserve being called a failed nation.

    Just tell me how many Indian girls have been raped daily in buses and streets? How many tourists have been raped in your country? How kids are being treated with extreme abysmal brutality? Why Indian women fear to go out in night? This is how you treat woman? Is this the reason you say yourself a successful nation?

    And this is just one issue, there are numerous other issues which have been letting India down for the past several years.

    Let me give you an advice, in spite of bashing on others, you should better focus on your own issues – which, now I know, you ever won’t.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    What I can say? .Look at your own society ,you will get a lot of answer.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    “If giving respect to women and providing them their true identity is failing as a nation then yes we are a “failed nation”.I m laughing like anything.Giving respect to woman that too in pakistan?This country is placed among bottom of countries when it comes to freedom and liberty of woman .You just just need to calm down and think logically.These kinds of articles r not taken seriously in pakistani media for a reason.Hope you will get it if you keep following this newspaper for a considerable time period .You also need to learn that we r an enemy nation.Like our media portrays you all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers,Similarly your media wants you to believe that all Indian men r out to rape women.But rape happens even in Developed country .Terrorism is unique to pakistan.And this is where your media is losing battle.Good byeRecommend